WILLS LAW AND CONTESTS: Writing a Valid Will, Trust Administration, and Trust Fiduciary Duty


WILLS LAW AND CONTESTS: Writing a Valid Will, Trust Administration, and Trust Fiduciary Duty

Adeyemi Oshunrinade E.JD

When David Shapira, M.D. died on April 13, 1973 his will was offered for probate; (see) Shapira v. Union National Bank, 39 Ohio Misc. 28, 315 N.E. 2d 825 (1974)

Dr. Shapira’s will in question:

Item VIII. All the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, real and personal of every kind and description and wheresoever situated, which I may own or have the right to dispose of at the time of my disease, I give, devise and bequeath to my three (3) beloved children, to wit: Ruth Shapira Aharoni, of Tel Aviv, Israel, or wherever she may reside at the time of my death; to my son Daniel Jacob Shapira, and to my son Mark Benjamin Simon Shapira in equal shares, with the following qualifications:…

(b) My son Jacob Shapira should receive his share of the bequest only, if he is married at the time of my death to a Jewish girl whose both parents were Jewish. In the event that at the time of my death he is not married to a Jewish girl whose both parents were Jewish, then his share of the bequest should be kept by my executor for a period of no longer than seven (7) years and if my said son Daniel Jacob gets married within the seven year period to a Jewish girl whose both parents were Jewish, my executor is hereby instructed to turn over his share of my bequest to him. In the event however, that my said son Daniel Jacob is unmarried within the (7) years after my death to a Jewish girl whose both parents were Jewish or if he is married to a non Jewish girl, then his share of my estate, as provided in item 8 above should go to the state of Israel absolutely.

At his father’s death, Daniel Jacob challenged the devise, he claimed the condition placed upon his inheritance by his father is unconstitutional, against public policy, and unenforceable because of its unreasonableness.

On petition to the Supreme Court, the court disagreed stating in its opinion that “the right to receive property by will is a creature of the law, and is not a natural right or one guaranteed or protected by the Ohio or the United States constitution.” Therefore, Dr. Shapira’s will, conditioning the bequests to his sons upon their marrying Jewish girls does not offend the constitution. “A partial restraint on marriage which imposes only reasonable restriction is valid and not contrary to public policy.

The principle of law and the authority in the United States is that gifts conditioned upon the beneficiary marrying within a particular religious sect or faith are reasonable.”

Wills Law and Contests deals with the subject of inheritance and the administration of trusts; no matter how long you live, there comes a day when you shall take the voyage to the land of no return and then what happens to your loved ones, spouse, and children?

Your will is the only voice that speaks when you are no more, it is that which shows your intentions, and the only instrument that determines how you want your belongings distributed among your survivors. However, for your will to speak on your behalf it must be valid or else, it is worth nothing but just a piece of paper with no effect of the law and therefore, not suitable for probate.

Without a valid will, your estate falls under intestacy and is subject to the default rule, meaning your belongings must be distributed according to the law of the jurisdiction not according to your intentions.

Wills Law and Contests is about: how to write a valid will; what is probate and non-probate property; what happens if one dies intestate without a will; what is the right of the adopted child; what rights does a posthumously conceived child has to a deceased donor’s estate; who is the parent of a child born by a surrogate mom for inheritance purposes; what rights do same sex couples and homosexuals have under the law of wills, intestacy, and more.

Wills Law and Contests provides answers to these questions and many more, using major Supreme Court and State Court cases dealing with the subject of wills, wills contests, and trusts administration.

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